I’m trying to learn a valuable lesson about my little girl’s feelings. Trust me, it’s not easy. The lesson I need to learn? Emotions are very real and we can’t just turn them off. Not sure what I mean? Here’s an example: We’re walking to the car and as we leave the porch, I warn her to keep her stuffed animal off the ground because it’s raining. She says her usual “okay, mommy” and we start down the driveway. Halfway to the car, she starts to run, loses her grip on the toy and drops it into the muddy water. She starts to cry. My first reaction? I am aggravated. We are running late and I told her to be careful. Now she’s crying and very upset because her toy is dirty. What I want to do is lecture her about being careful, take away the toy and tell her to stop crying. What I’m learning? That’s not the right way to handle it.
I’ve been giving this a lot of thought. When I’m upset, does it help me for someone to tell me basically to “get over it”? NO. In fact, it makes me feel disrespected and unimportant. So, it stands to reason that if I treat her that way, she will feel the same. I’m trying a different tactic now. In the above scenario, I would say something like, “Oh no! You dropped your animal and now he’s dirty. I can see you’re really sad so let me see if I can clean him off with a wet wipe. Next time, we’ll try to be more careful.” It works wonders! She feels like I understand where she’s coming from and usually stops crying. I don’t feel guilty for lecturing a 3 year old on a high school level (which let’s face it, my first reaction is a little over her head) and the incident is soon forgotten. Kids’ feelings are every bit as important as our own and it’s our job to teach them how to feel them. Stuffing your emotions is not good for anyone and this is the age where they learn to do that! If I teach my daughter that her emotions are “inappropriate” she will learn to doubt herself. If I teach her that we can move on and function even when we feel sad, she will learn that her opinion matters and that we can press on in the midst of adversity. I hope this is a lesson I can learn quickly.
Kids are really interesting creatures, aren’t they? My daughter fascinates me sometimes, like a science experiment on a grand scale. Her grandparents are visiting for the weekend and they are some of her favorite people in the whole world. They live several hours away so we only get to see them a few times a year and even at 3 years old, she recognizes how important they are in her life. Watching her with them makes me realize how much we, as people, respond to love.
My daughter instinctively knows that Gramma and Grampa adore her. She, of course, plays the part of the adorable enraptured child when they arrive. Screaming “Gramma!” and flinging herself into their arms. When they sit to visit with us, she can hardly contain her excitement and cries of “Grampa, look what I can do!!” echo throughout the house. For the hours they spend with her, it’s like watching a caterpillar become a butterfly. She is suddenly a free spirit. Normally afraid to jump off of anything, she jumps “from the second step because I’m 3!!”. Every few minutes she stops playing to give Gramma that extra hug. It’s so much fun to watch because I know I’m watching her build memories that will last a lifetime. My mind wanders back to my own childhood and my special “Nana” who cut the crust off my bread and made me “oven toast” on cold winter mornings. She played with my hair at night when I was falling asleep and sat with me when I had an earache. Those memories paint the walls of my mind like a peaceful gallery I can visit when “grown-up” life is not so much fun.
As I think about my daughter and her grandparents and my own experiences, I realize that God created the bond between grandparents and grandchildren as a special gift for both sides. For grandparents, they get a chance to love a child with no pressures to discipline or “raise them right”. They get to experience the joy of loving without so much of the sorrow that came with raising their own children and watching them leave the nest. For kids, they get to know the adoration of a generation that has learned how to love with their whole heart and knows just how fast the time goes. This dynamic is quite possibly one of God’s most perfect ideas.
For you to truly understand the reasons why I love my dog so much, a little background is needed. . .
We got our dog from a rescue shelter about 5 years ago when she was only 4 months old. I went to get her black and brown sister but when I got there, she picked me! She was the runt and so very cute, and while her littermates were romping in the yard, she was trying to play with me, giving me wet doggy kisses and just generally being sweet. I paid the shelter fee and took her home and thus began a beautiful relationship. We named her Maggie.
We had our normal ups and downs as with any new pet. Potty training a puppy is never fun and she refused to be crate trained. Once when we crated her at a friend’s house she actually backed her little bum up to the grated crate door and pooped out into the carpet. She sure showed us! But despite her unwillingness to change in certain areas, she’s been a good little dog to have around.
When I was pregnant with my daughter, I had severe morning sickness for 8 weeks. Maggie laid beside me the whole time I was sick, a regular little nurse maid. Shortly after I was feeling better, I was bitten by a brown recluse spider and confined to the bed again for about 6 weeks. This little dog was my companion, protector and friend during that whole time. She would dutifully go outside, eat and then come back to bed with me. Her devotion to me created a bond between us that can’t quite be explained, especially to a non “dog-lover” and it has remained to this day. When our daughter was born, Maggie “adopted” her right along with the rest of us. She’s brought on baby giggles and toddler romps and now they are the best of buddies. My daughter has to tell Maggie goodnight every night at bedtime and wants to see her first thing every morning. It’s the sweetest thing ever.
What has made me wax so nostalgic about my dog today? A silly little comment made by my 3-year-old daughter. She asked me at lunch today if Maggie could be her baby dog when she grows up. She’s getting the concept that children grow up and have families of their own, she just hasn’t quite figured out where the new babies come in, so she decided that Maggie would do quite nicely as her “child” when she’s a mommy. As I started thinking about years and ages, I teared up a little. When my daughter is 18, Maggie would be 21, which probably means she won’t be around anymore. Most dogs don’t live past the ripe old age of 15. Call me sentimental but I’m going to miss that dog. I guess the smart thing to do is focus on the here and now and enjoy the blessings God gives us while we have them. That goes for all of my many blessings, not just my little dog named Maggie.
Anyone else hate to exercise? I know I do. I have a few friends who thrive on it. They get all suited up in their stylish workout clothes and go to the gym at least 3 days a week, usually more. They have their cute little water bottles and sweat towels and just look so fulfilled when they’re done. Not me.
I signed up for an exercise class and prepaid for it, knowing this was the only way I would actually stick to it (my greed outweighs my laziness apparently). I have to tell you, though. . .when I got to my first class, despite my best efforts, there was nothing PRETTY about it. The class I am taking is ballet based but really intense. It’s called Cardiobarre but a more apt name for it would be Ballet Boot Camp. Oddly enough, after the first couple of classes I had a strange sense of accomplishment so I kept coming back. However, despite my best efforts and my “cutest” workout clothes, when I exercise it’s just downright ugly. I look around at all of these lightly glistening ballerinas working out with me and I’m disgusted by myself. I am dripping with sweat, red-faced and just generally miserable. Some of the other girls are still wearing their nifty little dance warm-up sweatshirts and leg warmers. I have stripped down to my ill-fitting leotard and tight sweat pants. I pant my way over to the nearest window and open it (it’s 20 degrees outside). Toward the end of class we begin our floor work: crunches, push-ups, etc. I am embarrassed to find that I am the only one sliding around on the floor in my own sweat. I didn’t know my forearms contained sweat glands!! After class I sit for a few moments to regain my composure, then “flop” down the steps to the exit door because my thigh muscles will no longer engage. I chug a bottle of water and head home for a much needed shower. I’m hoping that if I stick to this, I will get results. . .
Due to a minor surgical procedure last week, I have had to miss a few of my classes. Today was the day I was determined to start back but alas, my ballet shoes are in my car, which is currently in the shop. I guess I’ll have to wait another class to get back in the saddle. Do I sound devastated? Relieved is more like it. Oh no, I paid my money so I will get back in the swing of it, but I have to say, exercise is painful and I’m not looking forward to it. I guess that’s just an unpleasant fact of life I will have to deal with, like taxes and a mortgage.
So we have a ton of snow at my house and my daughter is dying to get out there and have some fun. Since we typically don’ t have big snows like this, I have yet to invest in a snow suit for her. It just does not seem like a sound investment. I decided she could play outside in the snow anyway with the right preparations. Here are some things I discovered.
*Layers are the key. I put her in leggings and sweat pants on the bottom and a turtle neck and sweat shirt on top. I then put her in two pairs of socks before I put her boots on. This works for insulation and to keep the inner layer dry.
*Tucking also helps you stay dry. It may not look cute but do it anyway. I tucked her pants into her boots and her shirt sleeves into her mittens. This helps minimize the amount of contact the snow has with delicate skin.
*A hat stays in place better than a hood. If it’s really cold, use both. Otherwise, a stocking hat fits more snugly over the ears to keep out the wind.
*Mittens are warmer than gloves. Most people know this but some don’t. Because the fingers are bundled together, they keep each other warmer with natural body heat. Kids can maneuver amazingly well even without the use of their individual fingers.
*If your child has long hair, pull it back. I put my daughter’s long hair into two side ponytails. This helped keep it out of her face and also helped her hat to stay on.
*The “thaw” is half the fun. We’ve decided it’s a family tradition to have hot cocoa when we come back inside. Even if you don’t have any of the instant stuff, you can microwave a cup of milk and add Nestle Quik for a fast alternative. Take off all those wet outer layers and enjoy the warm up process.
So, as you can see, I’m trying to make the best of it. Kids love snow and it’s great to let them enjoy it when you can. I even layered up myself and made snow angels. It was cold but the memories we made are priceless!!